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With a total investment of £110,000 on the latest phase of developments at Oban Marina on the Isle of Kerrera, the marina is set for another successful season. Varis Engineering from Inverness supplied 24 new 12-metre finger pontoons that have been installed by Tobermory’s North West Marine in time for the influx of visiting boat owners this season.

Over the past five years, the owners of Oban Marina - who also hold in their business portfolio the highly acclaimed Nanny Cay Resort and Marina in Tortola, BVIs - have gradually upgraded and expanded their Scottish West Coast marina base which has seen an increase in visitors year-on-year. It has proved a popular stopover for international, south coast and local boat owners and this season will see the greatest number of visiting rallies and events hosted at Oban Marina – a great boost for the local economy.

The marina will host several new events as well as welcome back annual regattas including:

·       The Three Peaks Yacht Race on 21st May

·       The Festival of the Sea Open Day on 31st May (in association with the Scottish Association for Marine Science)

·       The Great British RIB Rally on the 17th June

·       The Clyde Cruising Club’s Centenary Dinner on 30th July

·       West Highland Yachting Week on 1st August.

General Manager, Susan Deacon says: “This is a very exciting time for Oban Marina and it’s great that we are attracting such high profile events and regattas to the area. It’s good for everyone. Also, with 24 new 12m finger pontoons, we have the extra capacity and can now accommodate a total of 145 boats: up to 115 boats on pontoon berths and 30 on swinging moorings. We’ve also added three extra showers to help service the new berths and cut down on those summer queues. Last year a new water desalination unit was installed and this now provides plenty of water during the prime months.”

The provision of a much larger ferry for the Oban Marina to Oban shuttle service, allowed a greater numbers of visitors and marina/regatta guests to cross with ease to Oban throughout the season last year. Once again, the 63-person passenger service is running from 1st April through to the end of September 2010 and will be free for everyone on the Festival of the Sea Open Day on May 31st. The larger ferry proved a boost to visitor numbers to Kerrera, with many coming over for lunch at the popular Waypoint Grill & Bar.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under
Page 11 of 11

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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